Sunday, August 3, 2008

This Weekend - I Baked

I have been wanting to do a lot more baking and cooking lately. It has just been too busy with kids, work, event like American Idol, etc. But this weekend, the stars aligned and I was able to spend some time in the kitchen. Actually, it is mostly due to my beautiful wife who was kind enough to stay on top of the weekend chores and the kids so I could get some yummy things from the oven to our bellies. And, speaking of stars...they were gorgeous last night. R and I stepped outside after the kids went to bed and the sky was brilliant with glowing stars, we hung out outside long enough to see a shooting star together, which has always been a thing for us.

Back to the baking. This weekend, I made...

a brotform loaf of semolina bread,

a classic diner style layer cake with homemade peach jam and spiced whipped cream,

and bagels from Grandpa S's recipe

I also made some zuchinni pickles from the Zuni Cafe cookbook to put on hamburgers at my mom's house tomorrow.

So first off, the brotform. This was basically because I needed space in the fridge. I had some semolina dough from ABi5MaD and I let it rise in the brotform I got from D and M. This was a much smaller loaf than the last one, but it worked just fine. We had it as an appetizer with some rosemary oil and balsamic last night.

The cake was also for last night - we celebrated my Dad's birthday.

They had just dropped off some fresh peaches for us the day or two before so I thought it would be fun to incorporate them into the cake.

I have been looking for a go-to cake recipe lately and have been playing with one from Dorie Greenspan that was used in a past DB challenge. I made it a few nights ago as mini lavender bundt cakes, but I forgot the vanilla extract and they were obviously a bit flat (sorry Cat and Heath). I am liking the cake, it's got a great texture and a hint of lemon from the zest that is blended with sugar and then creamed with the butter.

This time I used vanilla and walnut extract and used the homemade peach jam (which was just cooked fresh peaches with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove) and covered the whole cake with whipped cream (whipped with powdered sugar for added stability) flavored with a hint of the walnut extract. It ended up looking like a classic diner cake. I really liked using the whipped cream - I really really like whipped cream, so covering a cake (I really really like cake too) in whipped cream is definitely the way to go. I can do without buttercream for a while.

I have also been wanting to bake more bread lately and I thought trying out Grandpa's bagel recipe would be perfect. My grandpa was a New York fireman way back, and used to tell me cool stories about growing up playing stickball in the streets. Now some people swear that you can't make a good bagel outside of New York because there is something special in the water, but Grandpa and I gave that theory a run for its money today.

To make bagels, you make a basic bread dough with salt and a bit of sugar, and knead the heck out of it
let it rise,
reknead, then shape into the the classic bagel "oh".

After a brief rise, they are boiled in salted, malted, water. I used sugar, because I didn't have any malt in the house. Boiling is key. You can't make bagels without boiling, so don't even try, unless you are a huge fan of round rolls. Steaming bagels doesn't work either, they don't get that perfect crust and chewy inside without being boiled.

They boil for about three minutes then you take them out and put them on a greased cookie sheet and you can add your favorite toppings at this point. That is of course assuming to don't think blueberries, or sundried tomatoes are the perfecting topping. Chocolate chip and blueberry are muffin flavors, not bagels. Today I went with sesame seeds, caraway seeds, and some gray salt.

They'll sit again for a few minutes and then head into a preheated (425) oven for about 25-30 minutes. I did add extra steam when I first put them in and I left my baking stone in the oven to regulate temp since I knew I would have to open the oven to rotate the two trays.

After an agonizing wait to let them cool, R and I finally tried some. They're fantastic. I will keep playing with the recipe, but I won't buy bagels in the Valley ever again. They are delicious, dense, chewy with a crust. I can't wait to toast one up in the morning with a schmear of cream cheese.


Anonymous said...

Wow, quite a bit of baking! The baked goods and carb products look delicious. But those zucchini pickles are really what grabbed my eyes when reading this. They look yummy.

Deb said...

All looks delicious!!

Ethan said...

I'm really looking forward to the pickles. They are pickled with cider vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seed, and tumeric.

Danielle said...

Dang - this weekend I was pretty proud of myself for doing a little laundry.

Yum - I want ALL of this when I visit. Baby Riker wants cake and bagels! Rawr.

mary gendron said...

Ethan! Wow...all this in one weekend? It all looks so yummy! I am jealous - I can barely make dinner most nights.